The world of kite competitions is intense when it comes to the Kite Park League where the standard of riding and judging is the highest. The smallest mistake will come at a high price as the riders have stepped up their game to bring the world’s elite to the next level. I am extremely grateful to be apart of the tribe of park rats who travel the world in search of slidable materials. The United States has the largest park scene as the first and second stops are held in Waves, North Carolina and Hood River, Oregon. Currently sitting in 4th place, I am very excited to share my story of these events and how much happens behind the scenes.
My home base is in the United States as it has been the center of park riding since the beginning. I had the opportunity to fly from Oregon to Cape Hatteras a month before the Triple-S Invitational in order to settle in and really practice riding the park before the crowds of kiters arrived. This time gave me a prime chance to test out all the different settings and sizes that the new AMP V1 quiver had to offer. I quickly became in tune with my new set up and I was having trouble not kiting too much in the Southern sun.
Due to a couple of injury setbacks, I was able to focus on my mental training before the event which helped me deal with a surprise ankle sprain as well as the pressures of riding extremely powered on a 7m in the final. The hardest aspect on competition day is constantly staying present with the ever-increasing wind as well as staying full of energy throughout the day. After clenching 3rd place, I stayed after the event for a week to begin a video project for Knot Future with some of the other finalists.
My migration back to Hood River was full of energy and stoke as returning home can be very exciting after 7 weeks away. A squad of finalists made it to the Columbia River Gorge in order to set up the park for the season, fine tune our tricks, and explore the Pacific North West for a few weeks before the Wind Voyager Apparel Hood Jam 2019 in July. The comradely between riders is incredible as we travel and explore different locations together. However, when the competition starts, everyone has a game face to put on in order to make it through to the coveted podium.
Injuries have played a large role in my 2019 season with my left ankle, knee and shoulder suffering through the long sessions on the water. Having speed bumps such as this make strategy essential throughout the competition to minimize impact and maximize consistency. With the help of my support team, I was able to make it through to the finals and come out with a 6th place result. I am staying here in Hood River till the end of the season and will start the next weeks with a mixture of recovery and riding. August is my favorite time of year to ride in the Gorge so bring on the hot weather and empty kite park!
I am very grateful for what the Kite Park League has taught me about preparation and dedication throughout the years. The group of riders who have dedicated their lives to this sport, are not only inspirational but also the most excited kiteboarders I have ever had the pleasure to ride with. The next stop on the tour is at Kite Mansion in Brazil in late September where the wind is steady and the park is at a maximum difficulty level.
Words: Isabel Von Zastrow